Cabinet to move forward with school closures

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LEADING councillors are expected to press ahead with plans to axe three middle schools despite objections.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet has been advised to approve the publication of statutory notices to close Beyton, Blackbourne and Ixworth middle schools.

They are also being asked to rubber stamp notices to allow community schools in the Thurston area to take on extra year groups.

The plans are part of a switch to two tier education in the Thurston area, which education bosses say will improve standards. Thurston Community College would expand on the site of Beyton middle and a post-11 Free School could be set up at Blackbourne or Ixworth.

During a two-month consultation, the council received more than 860 completed questionnaires, which were posted to all parents of the 21 schools affected and available online.

Asked if they would like to see a two-tier pattern of schools, 430 were in favour, 243 against and 133 said maybe.

For Beyton middle, 42 agreed with the plans, 112 disagreed and 13 were unsure. At Blackbourne, 12 agreed, 18 disagreed and seven were unsure. For Ixworth Middle, 26 agreed, 74 disagreed and 10 were unsure. When asked if they would support a Free School on either of the sites, 382 were in favour and 370 against.

Andy Nicholson, head of Beyton, said: “We’re expecting them to give it the go ahead and it will be a sad day for us and the other middle schools. We live in hope that it might not be and sense may prevail.”

If councillors approve the recommendations when they meet on Tuesday, statutory notices will be published early next month.

Representations can then be made to the authority for six weeks and the cabinet will then determine the notices.